You thought it was going to be easy.
There are only twenty four hours in a day. Yet it will feel like you need a lot more than that if you’re trying to grow and market a clothing line all by yourself. With limited startup capital you might not have the extra cash to pay staff so you’ll need to work overtime to pull it off.
Be prepared to sacrifice time: time with family, friends and just about everything else you enjoy doing in the early stages. Remember to set appropriate down-time for rest because you won’t accomplish anything working around the clock either.
Your designs are not as original as you think.
What makes you different? Just about every angle you can think of has been done every way possible. Spend time creating something truly unique and doing thorough research. You need to stand out from the rest of the world.
You expect open arms and open doors.
Contacting every buyer you’d like to do business with and expecting them to be as excited as you is not going to happen. Trying to convince them your brand is the next Calvin Klein, Lululemon or Nike is not the best approach.
Many fashion designers make the mistake of burning the bridge from the start when they don’t get the answer they want to hear. A bad attitude isn’t going to get you anywhere in the future either. Instead, regroup and keep the contact to approach down the road.
Also try to understand a buyer’s or manufacturer’s perspective. An inexperienced clothing line can be a nightmare. Startup clothing lines generally have a very limited budget. “Green” founders are also more prone to reacting in an inappropriate manner when something doesn’t go accordingly to plan. For these reasons and more, companies would rather not do business with you until you have proven yourself.
You think you know it all.
Starting a clothing line is much more work than most believe. There is this misconception that the apparel industry is easy money when in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Much like manufacturers, retail buyers don’t care who you are and they’ve heard “your story” all too many times before.
If you do not have a sales history to prove claims that you are “the next big thing” you’ll need to gain traction first. Can you even meet the demand when given an opportunity? While you may believe you are the next Lolly Wolly Doodle, the rest of the world is not aware of your greatness yet. So, slow down to our level and bear with us.
You accepted down as the only direction to go.
If your startup clothing line plan isn’t working, then it’s time for a new plan. Don’t sit around and watch your dream crumble around you. A true entrepreneur is innovative and resourceful. No business goes the way you want 100% of the time.
You will run out of money.
Too bad you didn’t make ten bucks for every like on Instagram, but a clothing business just isn’t sustainable without a solid funding source. The notion that you can start the next big brand without big cash baffles me. Most of the big designers that came from nothing also came from a different time and marketplace. They often came up under established brands and had a reputation and connections that helped paved the way.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Liam Massaubi is the co-founder Kanati Company, a Canadian menswear brand and retailer. He also provides design and consultation to other well-known labels. Connect with @kanaticompany on Twitter.
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