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Go from Fashion Influencer to Fashion Entrepreneur using Fashion Index

Sun 24 Jul 2022

Written by Isa Perez and Chandra Wong

Are you tired of representing other people's products for pennies on the dollar when you could be promoting your own? Are you ready to establish your collection but don’t know where to start? Here at Fashion Index, we have created an easy to use platform to help you on your journey towards making your dream fashion business a reality. There are a few things to keep in mind before beginning your endeavor: 

  • Your time is valuable 
  • There are businesses out there that want to work with you
  • The process can be simple and easy to understand
  • You can find everyone and everything you need on Fashion Index to start and scale your business

 

Hire a Coach 

A business coach helps set direction, and provides feedback, tools, guidance and perspective. For someone who has little to no knowledge of the fashion industry, we recommend hiring a business coach from Fashion Index. A coach will help you break down the process and fill in the gaps. With a wide variety of coaches on Fashion Index, you can choose someone who fits your needs and your vibe.

Coaches walk you through each step of starting up a business. You can focus on short-term, attainable goals rather than huge plans that seem impossible. They also assist with guiding you through:

  • Communication with people in the industry
  • Game plan for the type of products
  • Pricing
  • Instilling a sense of accountability for business plans and timelines

 

Coaches can teach you the language used within the fashion industry. As a business owner, you need to know how to communicate with potential factories, clients, and anyone you are reaching out to for your brand. Our coaches can give you the knowledge and confidence to communicate with these individuals!

Additionally, a coach will help you set up the ‘game plan’ for your business. A game plan is the overarching method to successfully bring your product to market. A coach will guide you through the steps as you make your product. For example, they will teach you how to assess pricing based on your product type and delivery methods. 

Coaches are a paid resource. However, the upfront cost of a coach will save you time and money along the way to turning your idea/business into a reality faster and more efficiently. Expertise from your coach can save you heartache and frustration in every relevant phase. This includes design, development, manufacturing, inventory storage, and management, packaging and shipping, website design, marketing, and more. We believe their mastery in these areas is well worth the investment and recommend them highly. Plus, they also provide an accountability factor, which is what most business owners need—someone to help them stay focused on their goals and keep to the plan and timeline.

 

Bring the Product to Market

Product Concept

Customers react positively to brands with a strong design concept. A design concept is the core idea driving the design of a product. Do you need or want someone to work with you one on one? Then you might want to consider hiring a consultant. They will collaborate with you to develop and fine-tune your concept as well and work with you all the way through the process of bringing your idea to market.  There is a wide array of consultants available on Fashion Index.

 

  • What is your mission? 

Define your passion. What drives you towards fashion? What is your calling and reasoning to dive into the industry? 

For example, is it creating bespoke fashion designs, offering quality timeless slow fashion, manufacturing locally, or using sustainable materials? 

 

  • What is your story? 

Your company needs a unique selling proposition (USP). What makes you stand out in your chosen category. What makes your company stand out; why should customers buy from you instead of the competition?

 

  • What is your niche? 

 What does your company/product have that is new and different? A successful company/product fills a gap in the market (price, quality, function, fit, etc).  

These are the questions you should be asking yourself as a business owner. This is where your business plan needs to be fully developed. If you feel you need more assistance you can look into a full-service agency. They are a hired service that can handle all the details. This is a great option for ‘idea people.’ You give them your product plan and the agency does the leg-work up to and including getting you finished product. This will allow you more time to do what you do best.



Brand Identity

Concept and brand identity go hand in hand. Brand identity is the visible element that distinguishes your company in the consumer’s mind. These elements are logos, color, design, and name. These key business plan components will give you a strong brand identity and aesthetic.

In the market, a business name should be simple, understandable, and engaging for the consumer to remember. This is one of the first elements someone will see when looking into your brand. Make it reflect who you are as a brand!

Your aesthetic must reflect the market. For example, if you prioritize sustainable materials, you might create timeless pieces with clean designs that have a long life cycle with the consumer. Your coach or consultant can help you determine the appropriate market price for your pieces. Higher quality materials and finishing will garner higher retail prices and potentially a higher profit margin. 

 

Business Model

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to business models. When deciding on your plan, keep in mind that certain models are more suited to certain products than others.

 

  • Cut and Sew 

Many U.S.facilities are manufacturing-based meaning they handle cutting and sewing garments while the brands are responsible for procuring the materials. 

  • Custom Wholesale 

This utilizes pre-made garments or products that brands can customize to make unique pieces to sell. 

  • Dropshipping 

An online retail fulfillment method that makes use of manufacturers that send product directly to the customer.

  • Print on demand

Similar to wholesale, you work with a supplier with white-label products to customize and sell with your brand/designs on a per-order basis. White labeling is when an established product uses the branding requested by the purchaser on their existing product.

  • Custom Clothing 

Often called made-to-order, this process involves communicating with the customer on how they would like the product to be made/adjusted for their liking. 

 

Determining the optimal model for your business will depend on what type of product, manufacturing process, and price point you choose. For entrepreneurs looking to start with a lower up-front cost model, custom wholesale and dropshipping are great ways to minimize the upfront investment. Methods like custom clothing or cut and sew have more unique specifications. These models cost more but can demand a higher price point. The business model you choose will determine what the next steps of production will look like. 

 

Crunch the Numbers

Before you finalize more decisions, know your expenses and the capital you have to support your business. Understand the costs for materials, suppliers, factories, insurance, etc. for your projected sales. Understanding your expenses will help you determine weather the need to look for additional capital or make changes to reduce cost. Options include meeting with financial backers to see what is available in loans and finding outside investments. While establishing your brand we recommend low inventory plans to minimize costs.

 

Design

Now that you have identified your Mission, Story, and Niche, consider starting with one product. This allows you to build a better brand and have stronger product positioning. Focus on one product and perfect your business model for that product. Once the first product plan is optimized you can replicate that plan to add more products! 

 

Business Partners

Fashion Index is your go-to source to find and connect to business partners. Specific partner categories include: 

  • Factories
  • Components 
  • Distribution

 

Factories will either be “Cut and Sew” or “Vertical.” The cut and sew factories require you to source all the components for your garment and provide a prototype, known as a ‘sew-by.’ The factory will take your sew-by and use that as their guide to duplicate your product. Vertical factories will follow a technical package (tech pack). A tech pack is a series of documents with detailed information about your product. This helps the business and producer communicate every detail of the product. The factory will use the information to source components and develop a ‘sew-by’ to determine price and to follow for manufacturing. Using vertical factories is a good option if you don’t have the time and a network in place to source components and do the development.

 

Components are everything that is used to produce your garment. Fabric, buttons, thread, zippers, labels, embellishments, etc. The key component is obviously fabric and once it is selected all the other choices will fall into place. It is important to consider the weight, sheerness, drape, and functionality needed for each product. Fabric can have extra features such as moisture-wicking or UV blocking.

 

Distribution is necessary for those planning on holding inventory internally. A location is required to house, manage, and ship the product once it has been ordered. This can be separate from your manufacturing location. Some vertical factories handle this part as well. Communication with providers will give you a better idea of their services.

 

Review Costing

Now is the time to make sure your actual costs incurred are properly reflected in the intended retail pricing. You may have to make changes to the design, retail pricing, or to the business plan that generated higher than expected costs. Keeping a record of costs in each process will make it easier to estimate the price needed for the finished product.

 

Check out The House of Chickadee (THOC) Fashion Design Consultancy. The owner, Andree, has free and affordable guides that give examples of tech packs and costing sheets that are easy for everyone to follow! She has one of the amazing businesses listed on Fashion Index.

 

Marketing - Build your Brand and generate demand for your product

You have done all this work to create a great brand with products you are proud of. Fashion Influencers have a captive audience but for those of you who are not an influencer, you need a vehicle or platform to let people know about your products.Your platform will be some or all of these:

 

  • Company website
  • Social Media/Advertising
  • Pop-up Shops

 

A company website is the best/easiest way for people to find and interact with your business. Creating an easy-to-use website is critical to your business’ success. Using a resource like Shopify makes it simple for a brand to create a market space. It is an easy-to-use site that includes a two-week free trial to test out the mechanics and functions. After completing your website, you can begin attaching your site to social media sites like Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook to market your product. 

Advertising is one of the most important steps to improve brand/product awareness and increase sales. If you have a solid media presence, use that to promote your business to a larger audience to gain traction. You can utilize your social media apps’ shopping pages to advertise and create buzz around the product with posts. When promoting on Tik Tok, short videos with trending audio and hashtags are a great way to reach a new audience for your product. Instagram and Facebook are straightforward apps to send the consumer to your website with the ability to tag the item in any post. Utilizing your social media presence will give you an advantage for your business and elevate your product.

Pop-up Shops are a great way to invite customers to have an in-store experience without the drawbacks of a permanent brick-and-mortar store. These shops are typically open for a few days to a few weeks at a time. A pop-up shop is a temporary retail space that is commonly used to introduce a new product line, test a new market or generate awareness. Pop-up stores are typically set up in areas with high foot traffic such as busy streets, malls, and city centers. This is a great way to create buzz around your business!


Fashion Index is here to help you on every step of your journey and we want you all to succeed. There is room in the market for all the great and innovative ideas. Let’s get to work!

Stay in touch!