How to start a fashion design business [Detailed Guide]

HOW TO START A FASHION DESIGN BUSINESS | Everything you need to know.

Hey! my name is Ruth. I am a fashion designer and I want to share with you valid information on how to start a fashion design business in USA, Nigeria, Ghana and other countries.

In a few words, I will be letting you know of easy steps required to starting a clothing line of your own anywhere in the world.
Just so you know, I have actually been in the fashion business world for over 7 seven years now. So I would like you to take every information I will be sharing on how to start a fashion design business very seriously. I’m not joking here, and I hope we are on the same page.

Moving forward….

Before I proceed to the main business or purpose of this article, I would like to use this opportunity to correct a misconception I noticed in my years on this business so far.
It’s one belief highly patronized in some part of the world but it’s speedily growing in Nigeria.

The fashion design business is one of the world’s every growing business.

This business is one of the few businesses out there that has room for potential investors as many as possible and customers because 90% (I stand to be corrected) of the world’s population wear clothes. Therefore as long as you’ve got the ability to make people appear nice, you stand a chance to become the next big thing in the fashion design business world or fashion designing industry.

Now this is the deal…

However, a few individuals have nurtured and are spreading a false belief that the fashion design business is meant for or suitable for the female gender only; which is very wrong. I don’t know where they got the idea from but I want to use this opportunity to correct that.

The believe that the fashion design business is for the female gender only is seriously killing the creativity in the industry.

The misconception has made creative male individuals with huge passion for fashion designing back down or rather opt for other things they got little or no interest in. Because it’s what their community tagged to be man’s job. Or this is what a male should be doing (for example the barbershop business) not that (fashion design business).

That’s is very wrong.

Below are a few male big names in the fashion design business or fashion Industry to back my point

 Lee Alexander McQueen founder of the Alexander McQueen label.
Late Alexander McQueen (1969 – 2010) was a creative British fashion designer who founded his own label in 1992.

He won the British fashion designer of the year back to back in the year 1992, 1997, and also in 2001, 2003 making it 4 wards respectively.

 Yomi Makun founder of Yomi casual label.

He is a creative design from Lagos Nigeria. Yomi casual won the fashion designer of the year award at the Nigerian youths merit and also city people hottest designer of the year in 2011 amongst many others.

 Giorgio Armani founder of an Italian luxury fashion house which designs, manufactures, distributes, and retails hauteur couture, ready – to – wear, leather goods, shoes, cosmetics.

Giorgio Armani formed his company Armani in 1975. He’s worth a whopping $8.1 billion as at 2017. He won the fashion designer CFDA INERNATION award in 1987.

I understand the fact that ladies or females are more Into fashion designing. With the likes of Yinka Arolambo C.E.O. MOOFA, American Tory Burch C.E.O. of Tory Burch LLC with a net worth of $800 million and a whole lots of others has made a mark in the fashion world.

Anyone can start a fashion design business in Nigeria, USA etc. So as man reading this don’t accept the misconception the business is meant for females. And as a lady reading this, encourage that friend you know wants to start a fashion design business. I rest my case.

Moving forward…

Let’s get straight into the reason why you are here. No more time-wasting.

What to expect from this article

• Step by step guide on how to start a fashion design business.

• Success factors to starting a clothing line of your own. (must read) – This section will be about a few important things you need to consider and work on to improve your chances of starting a successful fashion design business.

• Estimated capital or cost needed to start a fashion design business.

• Equipments needed to start a fashion design business. (must read)

• How to market your products (must read)
And many more…

Now to the business of the day.

HOW TO START A FASHION DESIGN BUSINESS | STEP BY STEP GUIDE.

How to start a fashion design business

1) Training

You need to be trained to master your designing skills. You’ll definitely need it to be successful on the long run.

The truth is you can start a fashion design business with little knowledge and still make sales. That actually works when a few individuals just want to give you a chance to impress them or maybe you’ve got little or no competitors.

However, on the long run when customers start getting exposed to better designs and you fail to meet up or deliver what they need, that’s the beginning of the end for your fashion design business. Because they’ll definitely dump you for someone else.

That’s why you need a very good training on how to sketch your own design and make good clothes.

During your training, approach your trainer with your own designs and have him/her sit with you to work on them. You can surf the internet for trending design, follow fashionable celebrities for design inspiration.

Try various designs during training. Doing so will enable you satisfy your customers wants when you start a fashion design business on your own because by then you’ll be experienced.

Without over stressing this aspect, this is what you need to know.

Contact a very good fashion designer around you and work as an apprentice for a few months.

Your training period depends on how fast you’ll be able to master your skills but I’ll recommend a training duration of 18 months. It could be less though, once again it depends on your ability to quickly master your skill.

However, don’t be In a hurry to leave, remember good things takes time. So I’ll advice you know all there’s to know about making a top quality dress.

NOTE: choosing the right trainer to train you is also very important. The popular saying goes thus – An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Which In this case means, if you learn from someone that’s good you stand a chance to be good yourself and vice versa.

Therefore below are a few things you should consider before choosing a trainer.

CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE CHOOSING A TRAINER.

• Niche  (The particular group of people you want to satisfy with your product)

Before you choose a trainer, you should have deliberated and decided on your target audience. Do you intend to design clothes for kids or adults, male or female, casual or formal wears? etc.

Having decided on your target audience, you can then choose a trainer that’s into designing for your target audience.

In essence, your trainer must be someone doing what you intend to do or have a very good knowledge of what you intend to do.

For example, if your intention or reason for wanting to start a fashion design business is to design and produce cloth for kids, you must learn from someone already producing for kids. Not from someone producing for adults.

A succeeding designer in your desired niche will be in the best position to teach / train you on everything you need to know to succeed in that line of business.

Experience

How many years has the individual you want to learn from survived in the fashion design business world? Take time to conduct research on the amount of years the individual has been in the business. The amount of years will determine how experienced such a person is. And experience is key in any business.

• Customers

There are two aspects to this particular factor to consider.

Firstly, Your trainer must have high patronage (lots of customers). In other words you must consider the amount or level of patronization before choosing or settling for a trainer.

Because the more the customers, the more styles or designs you’re likely know.
Secondly, He/she must have a good record in customer satisfaction. That’s a higher percentage of customers should be satisfied with his or her designs.

Contact a few persons that has worked and are still working with the individual you want to train you to get some feedback either positive or negative, Good or bad.

In summary, try to get some reviews about the fashion designer you want to learn from before settling for him/her.

That will do for now on what you need to consider before choosing a trainer when you intend to start a fashion design business.

Moving forward to the next step on how to start a fashion design business.

2. Management skill

Do you know any business that has survived so long without good management techniques? I seriously doubt that.

No business can be successful without a good manager or proper management. And to start a successful fashion design business on the long run, you need a bag full of management techniques.

This is linked with my first tip on training, where I talked about getting your training from someone experienced. The fact is, you can’t compare the way a fashion design business owner of 10 years and counting to that of 2 years. The way the former will approach & tackle obstacles as well as manage the fashion design business will differ from the latter.

Now this is my point…

Management is important in this business.
During your training, you can also learn and master the management techniques adopted by your boss to drive the business that far.

Focus steadily on planning, organizing, controlling, staffing, cash flow management, consumer satisfaction, influencing and directing to stand a chance to run a successful fashion design business. Or you can adopt the right methods of recruitment in an organization to hire someone who can manage the business.

Before you hire someone, you may need to know the factors to consider before recruiting any individual to work for you to avoid being sued for a breach of contract.

That’s it on my second tip on starting a clothing line. Remember you can always use the comment section for your questions.

3. Get a shop (location)

Go In search of a very good location and rent a shop there.

Choosing to right place to site your shop so your customers can patronize you may seem easy. But trust me, as easy as it looks it’s one of the major causes of business failure. Many business owners have neglected or underrated the importance of choosing the right business location and have failed.

They focus more on their products and services but forget/ neglect the need to be cited at a place their target audience can easily come for the produce or service they’re offering.

Make sure you are sited at a place very close to your target audience. It should be easily accessible by your potential customer.

To make you better understand and choose the right location for your fashion design business, I have compiled some important factor you should consider before choosing a location for your business. You should check that out it is very important.

4.Furnish your shop.

The next step after getting a good shop is to furnish it . To furnish the shop, you need  to get all the necessary equipment needed for your fashion design business and arrange them well inside the shop.

You should also consider getting the appropriate shelves (table and chairs) needed for your shop.

Lastly make sure you also consider painting your shop and tilling it. Painting your shop is a way of beautifying it and as fashion designer, the shop should to be well decorate looking very classy.

It is advisable you get in touch with an interior decorator to help you out for best results.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO START A FASHION DESIGN BUSINESS.

Fashion designing equipments
Fashion design business equipments

Needles and threads: ( different colors) you will actually need to thread the needle and use it to sew clothes.

Scissors: big and small scissors are needed to cut clothes into different sizes or shape.

Tape rule: For measuring clients and customers to get to the actual size of the client’s for best dress outcome.

Chair – for sitting – you will definitely need a few chairs and benches so customers can sit on and wait when necessary.

Tables: you will need a table or two to place dresses or materials on for marking & cutting and also ironing when you’re done with the dress.

Sewing machine: used to join cloths together

Weaving machine: it is used to make the sewing neat and strong.

Embroidery machine: this machine is for making really cool designs on clothes.

Generator: just in case of power failure and there’s need for you to work on some clothes to meet demands, A generator is always a wise choice as a back up power to start a fashion design business.   However you may need to contact a generator repairer / expert to help decide on a generator you can purchase that can power all your electronics most especially your electric sewing machine to avoid future issues.

Other equipments needed to start a fashion design business are – fans or Air conditioners, entertainment gadgets such as radio, television, decoder, audio players etc.

5. Get a license.

Having done all of the above mentioned tips, you’re definitely close to operating fully as a fashion designer. But before you commence operation, it’s advisable you get a license required for you to start a fashion design business.

The requirements for you to get a licensed depends solely on your country, state or city.
In essence, the requirements to get the license depends on your current location or business location.

Sometimes all you have to do is just to register your fashion design business name with a Union and that’s all.

In summary just make sure you get a legal backing for your business before commencing operation to avoid government sanctions.

6. Business name.

Business name is simply what’s your fashion business will be known as or called. After getting a shop, there’s need for you to give it a name that will represent it as a brand or label.

You can consider what’s you’re popular called or known as your business name. For example, Rose blouse fashion store, you can then shorten it on your design label as Rose 🌹 blouse® or something better.

Make sure your business name is simple and very easy memorize.

COST OF NEEDED TO START A FASHION DESIGN BUSINESS.

The cost of Starting a business always depends on two major factors – which are BIG & SMALL. Are you starting on a big scale or a small-scale?

The size of the business will determine hocw much you will need to generate to start it. because the amounts needed to start a fashion business on a small-scale will definitely differ from that needed to start on a big scale.

However, considering the equipment needed and Shop cost, at least a capital of around $2,500 (₦600,000) would be enough to start a fashion design business.

Please note that the price to get a shop depend on it location. A more exposed shop in a civilized area is likely to cost more than a shop in an area which is less civilized and exposed. Therefore the above estimated capital to start a fashion design business may cost more or less.

SUCCESS FACTORS TO STARTING A SUCCESSFUL FASHION DESIGN BUSINESS

1. Niche

As stated earlier, your niche is your target audience. Those people you’ve decided to produce for.

In fashion design business its important you have a particular segment of people you’re targeting to hit the ground running immediately. Even if you can focus on male, Female, adult, children etc at the same time, its important you pick just one to focus for a start based on your ability to deliver.

You can focus on designing dresses for females. Both casual and formal dresses.

And after you’ve gained enough authority in the market (recognition due to high patronage) you can then employ skilled extra hands to help you focus on other niches while you keep doing what you know how to do best.

In summary, my number one success Factor to starting a successful fashion design business is not to be a jack of all trade for a start. Pick a particular niche you know you’ve got the ability to satisfy them 100% and do just that.

2. Be creative.

You can’t go far without being creative in the fashion industry. Your ability to come out with some unique stylish and Fitting designs is a major success factor to starting a fashion design business. You could check out other designs from the big guns in the industry and add a thing or two to make it unique and better.

3. Price

When the price of your dresses are too high, it’s problem and when it’s too low it’s also a problem.
When it’s too high, customers won’t to be able to afford it and they will perceive it as low quality when is too low.

Know your target audience and make sure you set an affordable price. For a start you can actually start selling at a lower price compared to your competitors just to break into the market. Which will be increased as demand goes up to avoid bankruptcy.

You should avoid setting your price higher than your competitors, it doesn’t go well for small businesses at an introductory stage.

In a few words, just make sure the cost placed on your products are very affordable by your target audience and also very competitive with that of your competitors. Don’t forget to offer discounts when necessary.

4. Quality

Come to think of it, who doesn’t like to appear in an outfit that’s of good quality and unique features? Make sure you always design dresses of that fit the purpose of making. A sport outfit should differ from an office outfit or party outfit.

Therefore, have a clear picture of the activity or occasion you’re designing for a produce a quality dress.

That’s why it’s always advisable to choose a niche you’ve got real passion for. Your passion for something will always drive you to give it your all.

5. Consumer satisfaction. (service)

Earlier I talked about getting some reviews (positive or negative) before settling for trainer.

From a trainer that prioritize customer satisfaction, you can easily master the same techniques and have the same attitude yourself.

Customer satisfaction is always important for a business to succeed because a satisfied customer is likely to come back.

Additionally, offering good customer service is one very easy way to outrank your competitors. Offer home delivery and make sure you always deliver at the appropriate time no matter the circumstance, because your business images is at stake.

An unsatisfied customer can make you lose 10 customers.

For example. Let’s say you’re into home delivery and you failed to deliver a dress ordered by a customer at the appropriate time. May be the dress was a formal wear needed for an interview she later missed due to your late delivery. Her friends, parents, family members and a few more others will know the outcome.

Such a person may never recommend your service to another individual but instead condemn it.

In summary, customer satisfaction is a key success factor to start a fashion design business. Therefore you should create and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction by improving your service.

6. Respond to critiques

Truth be told you can’t satisfy everybody.
Customers are different so matter what you do to please them, a few will still find fault in what to you do. But it depends on how you take them.

Take criticism as something to build upon and seem them as motivations because in truth, it’s actually what they are.

Be open to suggestions and criticism and learn from each mistake you make. Nobody is really perfect so don’t let negative comments crush you. Instead, right your wrongs and keep improving because that the best way to reply and be successful in the fashion design business world.

HOW TO MARKET YOUR PRODUCTS IN A FASHION DESIGN BUSINESS.

Below are some of the methods you can adopt to create awareness (advertise) about your designs to get more customers.

• Organize a fashion show.

This is one strategy used by the guns in the fashion industry to advertise their designs. This helps to capture more customers, distributors as well as investors.

You can also adopt this evergreen to promote your fashion design business. It’s either you organize hold a fashion show yourself at a good venue or get a slot at a popular fashion show or event to showcase your designs.

To maximize finance coupled with other issues associated with holding on fashion show on your own, I recommend you get a slot at a popular fashion event to stand a of reaching more audience.

Make sure your designs are great, you’ll stand a better chance making huge sales and attracting distributors & investors with a good work.

• Get a showroom

It’s very important you get a showroom as a modern fashion designer. Now your showroom doesn’t have to be only at your point or place of production.

You can produce and design from Chicago and have your showroom in New York as long as your target audience are there, its fine.

You can have more than one show rooms strategically located with your target audience in mind.

• Create a your own catalogue. (a systematic list of pictures)Fashion business catalogue

A collection of your designs In a book. To create your own catalogue, you can contact a few models to wear your designs and take a photo of them to form your own catalogue.

If you can’t afford the services of models, you can go to a photo studio yourself and get it done or contact a your friends to help model it.

One benefit of a catalogue is this…

A customer might come to your store or shop with a friend who has no intention of buying anything. You can have her look at your catalogue while you take the customer who intend to buy something around. By doing that, the individual check the catalogue might find something interesting and decide to buy it.

Aside that, a catalogue is also useful as it gives customers the opportunity to choose a style for you to make for them if it’s not available.

Another way to promote a fashion business is to create a label and include it in all of your dress.

You can also customize like a package bag or nylon with your brand name, label, social media details etc. Just asked sure it’s beautifully made with your contact details on it.

• Create a flyer. (A flyer is a leaflet used for advertising)


You can contact a fashion designer to help you design a cool flyer. The flyer must contain a few details like your mail address, hotline, brand name or business name. Upon completion, organize a few individuals to share to passers-by and post on places graced by your target audience.

Social media (Instagram, Facebook, twitter etc)

It’s time to make better use of all the social media platforms you’re currently signed too.

Create pages and groups, take pictures of all your finest designs and upload them. You can also know how to run ads on those platforms.

• Create a blog

Contact a web programmer to help you set up a blog. Another alternative is to set it up yourself, you can follow this step by step guide on how to… Upload your finest designs and also your contact details, dress prices and location. So that people around you searching for the query fashion store near me can get your location details.

How to earn extra income running a fashion design business.

You can actually earn extra cash doing this business by putting on sale classy footwear and you can also sell soft drinks.

You may also want to check out how to open a home sewing business,  viewing center business, the shoe business, barbershop, and lucrative internet cafe (cyber cafe) business

Conclusion

Starting a fashion design business is a good choice of business because it’s very lucrative. But to make it big in little time, you’ll need to be very creative and make sure you keep your customers happy. Don’t forget to market your clothing line designs and manage your business well though. That’s all on how to start a fashion design business from me to you. Got questions? Drop a comment.

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