"The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy." —Yves Saint-Laurent
If you're considering starting your own clothing line, opening an online fashion business or otherwise taking your entrepreneurial and fashion skills to the streets with flair, chances are you've already got a fantastic dose of passion and motivation. In many ways, that passion can carry you through some of the most rewarding and challenging phases of entrepreneurship. But in order to succeed, you'll need to couple experience and know-how with your already blossoming passion for fashion.
1. Are you as passionate about running a business as you are about fashion and design?
Working in the fashion industry and owning your own business are two very different things. If your passion is design and you want to spend the majority of your time working on your craft, starting a fashion business might not be for you. It's not all glamour and glitz.
Like a skilled writer opening a publishing house, you'll be trading in much of your craft for business ownership, paperwork, employee payroll, marketing and sometimes even trying to break even.
Photo by Reidaroo via Wikimedia Commons
If you have little to no experience in the business world, it would be in your best interest to gain know-how before you get started, whether that means formally studying business in your spare time and getting a business management associate degree or working under a successful businessperson who's willing to teach you everything they know.
2. Do you have the connections you need to succeed?
You don't necessarily have to be super experienced (although experience is definitely a powerful asset) to open your own fashion business. But you do need connections, and not just with people in the fashion industry. You'll need to find people you trust to join your team, as well as people to work with you in marketing, brand development and Web design. You'll need funding to get your new business off the ground and someone who knows public relations inside and out to generate interest as you get started.
3. What is your demographic?
Once you've determined you've got what it takes to get started—and the perseverance to stick with it even when the going gets tough—you'll need to pinpoint your target demographic. Who will wear your clothes? Are you aiming for high fashion or do you want to design clothes for infants and toddlers? Identify the people who will actually be doing the purchasing.
Don't start too big; you'll want to focus on an audience and cater to them before widening your scope.
Photo by Charlie Brewer via Wikimedia Commons
4. What is your brand?
Obviously, your brand needs a name, logo and style that reflects your passion and personality in an appealing way. In an article by Inc.com, fashion experts underscore the importance both of being business savvy as well as having the ability to brand your line. Your brand serves to lure both investors and, later, customers who like your style, so take the time to get it right. Constantly collecting feedback, looking at ways other up and coming fashion designers keep their brand fresh and selling a look rather than a motley collection of individual pieces will work wonders when you're branding your style.