Have you ever asked yourself whether you are working towards building a hobby or a business? You may say “business” immediately, but take a minute to really think about this question.
Are you a hobby enthusiast or a business owner?
As designers, this is something that so many of us struggle with. While we want to create designs that allow us to express ourselves, and designs that we are inspired by, it doesn’t always mean that there is a customer out there ready to buy our designs.
It’s really important to gain clarity into why you are doing what you are doing. For example, if I were running my fashion brand as a hobby, I would run it very differently to the way I am running it now, which is a business.
I made the decision that I had to run a business (and not a hobby) from the get-go, because I didn’t have the luxury of quitting my corporate job and diving deep into a hobby. I did have the luxury of following my passion, but I had to follow it with the mindset of building it into a business.
Some of the things that I did in the first six months of researching my business were:
- Wrote a business plan (this sounds scarier than it actually is, but don’t worry this is mostly a document to help guide your thoughts and plans more than anything else)
- Researched my competitors
- Figured out my brand messaging and voice
- Understood how to find the right business partners
- And design, of course! (the most fun part, right?)
By going through each of the steps above, I was able to slowly build my thoughts and research into a business.
With every decision you make there are pros and cons, and deciding whether you want to run your fashion brand as a hobby or a business will also have its set of pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at the hobby of fashion:
- You spend most of your time designing and engrossed in the creative process
- You don’t worry too much about the costs of inputs. So what if your fabric costs $20 a yard and your retail price can’t cover the cost of inputs and cut and sew.
- You design and make only the clothes that you want to see people wearing.
- You view press is an opportunity to share your beautiful designs to the world, and not an opportunity to drive sales.
Now lets take a look at the business of fashion:
- You spend at least 50% of your time on the business, not designing.
- You care about the cost of inputs, and have to work backwards to figure out what your costs need to be in order to sell at a specific retail price and make a sustainable profit.
- You design clothes with a target demographic in mind. You pay attention to what the majority of people in your target group want to wear.
- You are looking for margins that allow you to sustain and grow the business.
- Press is an opportunity to create brand awareness and drive sales
Which one are you? A hobby owner or a busines owner?
You don’t have to decide today, but the sooner you know, the sooner you can channel your designs, energy and efforts in the right direction.
Nishika de Rosairo was a Strategic Advisor to Fortune 500 / Silicon Valley companies such as Deloitte Consulting, Apple, Salesforce, Cisco, Levi for 9 years. She is now the CEO and Creative Director of a womenswear contemporary brand named dE ROSAIRO.