#SWAAYthenarrative

Style Diaries: How To Start Your Own Fashion Line

Career

From selling T-shirts to developing a signature line of summer dresses, fashion is big business. There is always room for new ambitious entrepreneurs to take advantage of the overwhelming demand for newness in the fashion industry. Some $250 billion was spent by consumers on fashion in 2015 according to Statisticbrain.com.


The Internet has utterly transformed the way we do business, making way for new entrepreneurs to come up with innovative start-ups that take a unique approach towards work. No matter what business a person wants to get into, there is plenty of help available all around. In fact, this is due to high percentage of outsourcing services available, letting managers concentrate on core functions of the business.

If you are looking to start a clothing company, you can easily find companies that are already established as wholesale clothing distributors and develop well-oiled supply chains to get your business rolling.

Remember, Fashion is a Business

Before we get started, you have to keep one thing in mind; fashion is a business. Most people who get into the fashion industry, do so because they like clothes, like to design clothes, or like looking good in clothes. You may fit the bill on all of those things but all of that does not create a business.

You’ll have to know just what it requires to keep profit margins, how to deal with legal problems (like agreements, insurance policy and also producing a partnership or an LLC), and how to supply products to your customers in a prompt and also cost-efficient manner. Taking time to plan for the business aspect of style will certainly be crucial to your success.

It Probably Takes More Money Than You Think To Get Started

Like a lot of things in life, starting a fashion business isn't cheap. You’ll need to take the time to produce sensible quotes on just how much it will indeed cost to begin as well as maintain your business.

When you’ve started that procedure, it will likewise be important to start finding out where the start-up capital is coming from (is business being funded by your individual financial savings, assets from family members, a bank loan). A tip is to multiply what you assume it will cost to preserve your operations by five.

Manufacturing

Whether you are printing T-shirts or you are developing an entire unique fashion line, someone has to make the stuff. You have to find a manufacture that can create the clothes to your exact specifications. Visit Makersrow and search for manufacturer that can make your products. In the beginning, you may be able to get away with sewing and printing the clothes yourself. However, if you begin to gain some traction, there will be less time for you to dedicate towards production. Which leads me to my next point.

A Lot of Your Time Will Be Spent Doing Other Things

When I was in college, I used to develop fashion jewelry as well as offered them shops to make ends meet. I can tell you, firsthand, that a lot of my time was not invested creating brand-new precious jewelry styles. Instead, about 70 percent of my day was spent on doing everything else that it takes to run a successful company.

You need to be ready to do everything on your own until you can employ others. You will find that a lot of your time will be invested in paperwork, customer invoices, tracking online orders and expenditures rather than milking your own creativity. You likewise have to be prepared to deal with logistical like shipping, customer support, creating and distributing, press kits, and figuring out a plan for operations development.

Building the Brand

Your is your company’s identity. The goal is to not only gain followers but to build loyal followers. The loyalty of the people who choose to buy your products will spread to others. Think of your brand as a person. What your brand does and how it responds to those who interact with it will make all of the difference.

In a world where everyone wants to start a clothing line of some kind, personalizing your brand and connecting with customers will give you a leg up on the competition. Here are some important things to remember when building your brand.

Be Everywhere

Seeing the brand name and logo everywhere is an important part of marketing for any business but is especially crucial for clothing lines. The fashion industry relies on social proofing more than most sectors. No matter how much people want to be unique, they tend to wear what their friends and style icons are wearing. The more people see your clothes being worn, the more people will want to wear them. Once you’ve identified your target market, get in front of them somehow and stay in the forefront of their minds.

Be Known for Something

There is nothing like a good story to go along with a good brand. Your clothing line should be known for something special in order for it to stand out. FitMeSo.com, for example, is a clothing company that makes dresses to the exact measurements. You pick the exact style, patterns, and materials and the dress is made to fit each customer perfectly. They have a reputation of delivering clothes that fit. Your brand should also have its own identity and reputation.

Create Fans First

Think ‘fashion bloggers’. People who are fans of you or your style will be your first customers. Even if you are not in the fashion field it is also possible to use your personal awesomeness as a springboard. Youtubers Wong Fu productions launched their clothing line Mr. Nice Guy and Awkward Animal, LLC after the gained popularity making comedy Youtube videos.

Customer Service is Still King

Even though the fashion industry is about selling products, your service will be what keeps people buying. Make it a priority to ship your online sales to your customer quickly and accurately, and figure out a way to help customers make shopping decisions with a knowledgable sales associate (be it virtual or human).

Set Up Shop

The mistake many new fashion entrepreneurs make is that they try to get their product in the stores and on the runway right away. With the fashion industry being as competitive as it currently is, the best way to get the attention of larger retailers is to prove that people like your designs, starting small, then expanding later.

To do that you have to sell the stuff yourself first to get noticed. The easiest way is to get it out to people is online. I recommend using Shopify to set up your online store. With Shopify you can set up an online store pretty quickly and post your designs.

The mistake many new fashion entrepreneurs is that they try to get their product in the stores and on the runway right away. With the fashion industry being as competitive as it currently is, the best way to get the attention of larger retailers is to prove that people like your designs.

To do that you have to sell the stuff yourself first to get noticed. The easiest way is to get it out to people is online. I recommend using Shopify to set up your online store. With Shopify you can set up an online store pretty quickly and post your designs.

It Could Take Time For Your Fashion Line To Take Off

Real success often takes some time for the majority of us. You don’t earn a profit until you have repaid your start-up costs (such as material costs, money spent constructing a web site, press set production/ mailing expenses, and so on).

It took years for Shark Tank star and founder of FUBU, Daymond John to take his clothing to take off.

“I would wake up at about seven or eight in the morning, and I would sew the hats by myself, tag them, answer a couple of orders that came in overnight. Then I’d take the hats, package them, and begin to ship them out. I took care of all of that until about Noon or 1 PM. Then I’d hit up Red Lobster around 4, work there until midnight, come back home, make more hats, and tally up any orders until about 1 or 2 in the morning. I’d start the routine all over again the next day. I did this for about two years straight”, John said in this interview.

The fashion industry can be highly competitive and highly lucrative. Use the tips above and you can begin to stake your claim.

This post was originally published on StartUp Mindset.

5 Min Read
Culture

Black Wall Street: The Story of One Black American Superhero

Like so many millions across the globe, I deeply mourn the loss of one of our greatest real-life superheroes, Chadwick Boseman. To pay tribute and homage to him, my family rewatched his amazing performance in Black Panther. T'Challa was one of Boseman's most important roles both on and off the screen, as his portrayal of the heroic warrior and leader of the people of Wakanda inspired viewers of all ages.

Re-visiting the futuristic city of Wakanda on screen caused me to reflect on how Blacks in America once had our own version of Wakanda: Black Wall Street. Black Wall Street was the name given to the wealthy, thriving, Tulsa, Oklahoma neighborhood of Greenwood in the early 1900s. The nearly 40 square-block neighborhood had more than 300 businesses and over 1,000 homes, including several stately mansions. Like Wakanda, Black people in Greenwood built their own hospitals, schools, theaters, newspapers, churches, and everything needed for their community to flourish.

Tragically, he lost everything he built, as did the entire district of Greenwood, in the largest, government-sanctioned race massacre in U.S. history.

With only 42 years separating the moment Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and Greenwood's founding, the amazing feat of Blacks building Black Wall Street is something that required supernatural acts of real-life superheroes the likes of which we see onscreen in Black Panther.

One of these real-life superheroes and leaders of Black Wall Street was my great-grandfather A.J. Smitherman, owner and editor of the Tulsa Star. The Tulsa Star was the first daily Black newspaper with national distribution and was a source for Black people to stay informed about issues affecting them throughout the US. A member of the first generation of Blacks born free in the late 1800s, Smitherman attended La Salle and Northwestern Universities. After receiving his law degree, A.J. began his career in community activism, politics, and the newspaper business.

A fearless leader in the Black community not just in Tulsa but throughout the nation, he dedicated his life to empowering his race in all categories of life in every way: morally, economically, physically, and politically. A.J. fiercely and courageously used his newspaper and the power of the press to end a myriad of corrupt operations and develop his community. As one of the most influential founding fathers of Black Wall Street, his contribution and investment in Greenwood was and is immeasurable. Tragically, he lost everything he built, as did the entire district of Greenwood, in the largest, government-sanctioned race massacre in U.S. history.

Unlike Wakanda—the fictional land hidden in the mountains of Africa, mostly invisible to the outside world and protected from foreign threats—Greenwood was exposed. Greenwood was not only visible, but the 11,000 residents and their luxurious lifestyle were a constant reminder to their poor white neighbors across the tracks that Black people had surpassed them in economic empowerment and success. Eventually, the jealousy, greed and contempt for the growing Black economic and political power ignited a horrendously evil act of domestic terrorism by white Tulsans.

A.J. fiercely and courageously used his newspaper and the power of the press to end a myriad of corrupt operations and develop his community.

On May 31st, 1921, thousands systematically looted and burned down Greenwood in a 36 hour-long massacre resulting in the murdering of over 300 Blacks. Thousands more were detained in concentration camps where they remained for months through the freezing Oklahoman winter.

In a recent interview, I was asked what goes through my head when I see the racial unrest taking place today and compare it to what was happening 100 years ago leading up to the Tulsa Massacre. The short answer is that I am incredibly sad. I'm sad for so many reasons. One of the things I am saddest about is knowing that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother sacrificed everything for the betterment and empowerment of their race. And after all of these years, the struggle continues.

I believe that now, more than ever, it is so important to maintain not only our hope but our faith.

A.J. Smitherman's writings in both the Tulsa Star, and thereafter in the Empire Star, a paper he founded later in New York, reveal a man full of hope and ambition to make a difference and contribute to his race and his country as part of the first generation of Blacks born free. He worked tirelessly to this end until the day he died in 1961. Tragically, A.J. died still a fugitive of the state of Oklahoma, having been unjustly indicted by a grand jury for inciting the massacre. This is another point of tremendous pain and grief for me and my family. It is a travesty that he never saw justice in his lifetime, and he furthermore never saw his dream of racial equality.

But perhaps what saddens me most is the fact that I truly believe that in his heart, he still had hope that America was on a path to find its way out of its dark past and into the light of a new dawn. He hoped that the nation would one day become a country where his descendants would no longer be subject to racial hatred, discrimination, and economic disenfranchisement. And I'm certain that he believed the days that Black people would fear being lynched would be long gone by now.

One of the things I am saddest about is knowing that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother sacrificed everything for the betterment and empowerment of their race. And after all of these years, the struggle continues.

I can feel A.J.'s blood in my veins, and I feel a responsibility to carry the torch of the light of hope. I believe that now, more than ever, it is so important to maintain not only our hope but our faith. I'm very grateful for the attention being brought to the legacy of Black Wall Street and A.J. Smitherman. Knowing their story of success and triumph and how it tragically turned to massacre and destruction is vital to insuring history doesn't continue to repeat itself 100 years later.

One thing I know for certain is that building a brighter future will require all of us to summon our own inner superhero, like A.J. Smitherman and Chadwick Boseman before us, and work together to continue to fight for our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.