As much as we would all love it to be true, running a fashion business is not simply made up of designing collections, organizing photo shoots, and producing shows. (Though wouldn’t that be awesome?). No, most of what we all spend our time doing is the other stuff. Those things that are not really at all appealing but still manage to tap us on the shoulder, reminding us to pay attention.
Having a solid foundation in your business includes a lot. There’s the operational aspects, the research, the branding, and so much more.
There tend to be three areas of fashion business that I see ignored the most by brands: Proper Research, Legal Preparation, and In-Depth Branding.
3 Areas of a Fashion Business That Are Often Ignored
Research and Education
Research is a big part of creating as well as running a business. Sounds a little obvious, I know. But the thing is, we all tend to spend time on researching things like the competition, price points, and our target market. That’s great. All of this must be done. But there’s more to researching and education than just that. What about things like:
- Researching trends in design. I know, I know. You don’t follow trends. You create “classic” collections. Well, classic or not, you need to know what is trending in design if you hope to have paying customers. The trick is to educate yourself about what’s trending and then put your own spin on it. I’m not suggesting that you blindly follow trends, but I am suggesting you keep abreast of silhouettes and colors that your target market is craving and buying; figure out how to incorporate the essence of trends without compromising your design principles and aesthetic.
- Then there are trends in retail. Do you keep on top of this? What’s happening in e-commerce? How about direct-to-consumer sales? How are boutiques evolving? What about department stores? The more of a handle that you have on trends in retail, the better you’re able to plan and launch your sales strategies.
- Sourcing. Ah, this is a big one when it comes to research. I see a lot of new brands spending some time researching fabrics and factories. But do you know how to source? Do you know where to look, what questions to ask, and what your expectations should be? There’s an art to sourcing (there are entire departments dedicated to it within companies). The more you know about how to source, the more effective your efforts will be.
Getting the Legal Stuff Worked Out
The legal stuff. For the most part we spend some time getting our businesses all set up from a legal perspective. We decide on our business structure, talk to people about the in’s and out’s of trademarks, and get a few contracts written by our attorneys. Great. But why are we stopping there?
- An attorney once told me that most new businesses come to her once they are already in a jam. By then your options for fixing the issue are often limited. A boutique isn’t paying their invoice, you didn’t have a permit to do something but, whoops, did it anyway; these are things that a little preparation could have helped prevent.
- Working with independent contractors, brand collaborations, creating a partnership…these things should all be handled by first consulting your attorney.
Branding Your Fashion Business
Yes, we all think about the fun stuff when it comes to branding. The logo and website, hang tags, packaging, and business cards. And some of us even go as far as to think about the brand voice and the purpose. All of these things are incredibly important and shouldn’t be ignored. But, what about the other things that go into building a real brand?
- What value do you bring to the customer? What do you bring to their lives and why will they choose you?
- How does your product reflect your brand? Have you branded yourself luxury but your materials and construction don’t reflect it?
All of these things are so important when building your business. It can seem overwhelming, I know. But carving out time to reflect on these things and then doing what’s necessary to implement them, will do wonders for your business (and your sanity!).