June 18, 2019

14 tips everyone must read who is starting a fashion brand: fashion brand growth hacks


Starting your own fashion brand is hard…

You may think that all you have to do is know what looks good, and the rest will follow.

Trust me, even if you are on point when it comes to fashion, actually designing styles that work and that people want to buy, sourcing materials, expanding your marketing reach and successfully growing your brand is not easy.

It takes time. People no longer automatically find your website that you have built, it takes consistency over years for people to discover you.

This is why we have created a list of advice when starting your own fashion brand.

1. Traffic takes time to build

Don’t expect traffic to come to an online store the moment you launch. It takes months to build awareness online and start to drive traffic successfully, we are still ourselves learning 2 years in.

2. Choose where you sell wisely

It can be completely demoralising turning up to market stalls and pop-up events and selling nothing, but this is bound to happen. At first, you will want to say yes to any offer and every event. Whilst this can sometimes work, often you will be left trying to sell to the wrong audience. You will soon learn which events track your custom audiences.  

3. Launch a business with a partner you can rely on and trust

There have been so many moments when one or the other of us are feeling tired, down and simply don’t want to do any more. It is so nice to have someone there to provide support when you need it most. I really don’t think I could build my own fashion brand alone.

4. Find a business partner whose skills compliment your own

If possible, this will massively benefit your business success. Try to find a business partner whose skills compliment your own. If one of you loves design, great, let them focus their energy there whilst you focus your efforts in areas where you thrive, be it marketing, data analysis, social media or sales. Work out what the other is best at and start to delegate tasks appropriately.

5. Expect an investment of both time and money

One thing I have realised when starting my own business is that everything costs more than expected and takes at least twice as long. Don’t go into this expecting it to be easy. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

6. Love the process

As it will take so much of your spare time, energy and focus, and will always be on your mind and a point of conversation with friends, make sure you love the process. Starting a business isn’t for everyone, so make sure you are enjoying the journey, as it will quickly start to become part of your life.

7. Be prepared to give up evenings and weekends.

For this to work, you will need to be able to fund your dreams. This means continuing to work a day job, even if you are not passionate about it, in order to fund your true goals. As a result, your spare time in the evenings and weekends will now become work time which you can dedicate to tasks such as blogging, sourcing, social media or outreach.

8. Create a USP - Unique selling point

Find what you are passionate about and make make that your unique selling point, something that enables you to stand out from the hundreds of other fashion brands out there. Sustainability may sound like the next big thing, but I can assure you it eats away at profit margins and makes sourcing incredibly challenging. Although we would love to see more competitors in the space raising awareness for sustainable fashion, find something that truly motivates you and will allow you to stand out from the crowd.

9. Try one thing at a time

There have been a number of times when we have tried several things at once and not really seen success. Spreading your efforts too thin is never a great idea, and means that instead of getting a number of things done, you achieve very little of what you set out to do. Focus on one thing at a time, and if it doesn’t work after real sustained efforts, move on to the next.

10. Learn from those who have already created successful businesses

Try to make friends who own their own businesses and can give you pointers. Ideally you want people ahead of you in the journey who are willing to help show you what to do. It’s also useful having people the same level as you whilst starting, as you can share tips that you have learnt whilst holding one another accountable. It will benefit both parties.

11. Sourcing can be slow

Sourcing anything outside of the essentials, particularly if sustainable, can be problematic, so don’t think you will be able to find what you are looking for overnight. To make more complicated items takes months, searching for fabrics and materials, trimmings, and a manufacturer who you can work with. Throw into the mix small MOQ’s, manufacturers locations, shipping times, and the fact many suppliers can be irritatingly slow at replying, you really will soon start to understand how it takes so long to create new items. It makes the design side look relatively straight forward.

12. Spend time understanding your cash flow

It is one of the more boring sides of running a business, but you must understand where money is going and what is coming back. It can be all too easy just to spend, but in order to price correctly, work out margins. Ultimately to become profitable you must understand your cash flow.

13. Expect demotivating questions from friends and family

There will always be those who don’t understand what you are doing. Whether through jealousy or thinking they are trying to help, many will say it is a bad idea and that you are wasting your time. This often comes from those closest to you who are only trying to look after you. Be prepared for this, as it can really hit your confidence. Try to surround yourselves with people who understand what you are trying to create and who can help build your confidence.

14. Success leaves clues

If you are stuck for what to do next, start looking for those who you look up to and want to emulate. There are always signs of what is working for them that you can start to implement today. Google will also become your best friend, as it can help answer almost every question!

15. Always be networking

Have you ever heard the phrase, you are the product of the 5 people you spend the most time with? This phrase has so much power and has never been more true. Think about who you are spending the most time with, and the likelihood is that you currently have the average wage of the group, an average job amongst your 5 closest friends, similar hobbies, body weight, and almost anything else. So surround yourself with other entrepreneurial minded individuals who will challenge you to continue to grow your new fashion brand.

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