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Now that you know how to use social media to land your dream job at a fashion company, how do you start your own fashion company where people would dream to work for you? Helping us crack the code is Mary Vallarta, a former fashion retail executive for companies like Macy’s, BCBG, Metropark, and Bebe. She launched FAB (Fashion and Business) Counsel in 2012 with the mission of helping entrepreneurs create profitable and mindful fashion companies.
Today, Mary and her company remain dedicated to sharing insights, tools, and resources that empower fashion entrepreneurs and businesses all over the world, so she’s the perfect person to share her tips on launching a dynamic fashion brand.
Read on for her seven pro tips and learn more at FAB Counsel’s upcoming crash course.
1. Have a concept for your fashion brand. You cannot appeal to everyone in the world so you have to choose a direction to go with. Think about what people like to wear and what you can realistically produce. For example, don’t start a denim line if you have no experience designing and producing denim fashion. If you do this, you’ll need to invest a lot of time in research and development.
2. Design your initial product offering based on your concept. So, if your concept is casual and versatile beachwear for women, then all the products in your collection should be merchandise that women can easily wear to the beach.
3. Get some feedback from people who you think are your potential customers. Share the concept about your fashion line and show them your designs. This is your chance to improve your collection before you take it to the market. Ask their opinion on the look, fabrications, fit, and price.
4. Test your concept. How do you know if people will buy your fashion line? The only way is to sell it! Get your initial products out there into the market. Start out by producing small quantities. Then sell it directly to consumers. Choose a distribution channel that won’t require a hefty up front cost. Again, this is a test phase. So, building a brick and mortar store is not the way to go, unless you’ve just got cash on deck. Start your own e-shop and sell online.
You can also sell in-person by setting up a pop-up shop, organizing in-home shopping parties with your friends, family, and network, and by vending in farmers markets, flea markets, and festivals. Do not produce too many units at this testing phase. The goal isn’t to make a killing, it’s to validate that there’s a demand for your products and to find who your target customers are. This time is also meant for you to learn about improvements you can make. So, make sure you interact with customers during and after the selling process. Don’t invest too much money into branding and marketing at this time either. All you need in this stage is the name of your fashion line, labels, a website, social media handles, a company email, and a short bio.
5. Assess your data. Gather all of the information from your first set of sales. Make a record of what sold, what didn’t, and customer comments. This is the data you need to improve your future products and your business.
6. Refine your product offering. Use the data that you’ve gathered and assessed to improve and refine your fashion line. Perhaps you need to change the fit, lower your prices, take out the styles that didn’t sell. Any kind of changes you make will be based on actual sales data. This is how you create a fashion brand that sells!
7. Expand on what works. Now that you’ve proven your concept, found your fit in the market, and made improvements to your line, you can now expand your product selection and invest more money in additional units, branding, and marketing. That will increase your customer reach and sales.