Fashion Startup Business: Where to Spend and Where to Save Money

Fashion startup business: Spend vs. Save

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is that I cannot do it all. When you’re first starting out as a fashion startup company, it is tempting to do everything yourself to save money.

But just because you can be the one to do something (like sew all the first samples) doesn’t mean you should. When you’re first getting your design business going, there are some things worth paying for, and other areas in which you can skimp.

Here’s my “learned it from the school of hard knocks” list of when it’s OK to spend the money and when you should save in your fashion startup business.

  • DO SPEND on a graphic designer who will brand your business professionally.
  • DON’T SPEND on a completely customized website with all the bells and whistles that you don’t really need.
  • DO SPEND the money for a professional photographer to get excellent product shots.
  • DON’T SPEND on printing 500 look books of your first season’s line.
  • DO SPEND money on a good accountant, payroll service, and maybe even a bookkeeper.
  • DON’T SPEND the money you didn’t spend on an accountant on late fees and penalties you pay the government because you were too cheap to pay for an accountant or a payroll service.
  • DO SPEND money on educating yourself about the fashion business. Go to Industry events and workshops (live or online), go to trade shows, buy some books, and hire a coach to guide you if you can.
  • DON’T SPEND time, energy, and money trying to figure it out all by yourself. It’s not a lot of fun to learn from trial and error and there’s no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to how to run a business.
  • DO SPEND a little money on a designated place to work. You can keep it simple (think Ikea) but it’s important to allow yourself an assigned work space somewhere.  Starting your business from your living room is fine (more than fine!), just be sure to carve out a corner just for your business.
  • DON’T SPEND on a bunch of computers and software you don’t really need.  Start lean, you can always upgrade later.

So what do you think? Please share a tip in the comments below about ways you have spent or saved and what you suggest for others.

Jane Hamill

Jane Hamill is the founder of Fashion Brain Academy and the creator of several online trainings for apparel and accessories designers, including “20 Up” Marketing Course for Designers and “How to Start a Fashion Business: New Designer Program”.

1 Comment
  1. Steff

    Great article Jane – the only extra I would’ve added is that it is a great idea to spend a little money on promotion – maybe sending out press releases and product samples to magazines, bloggers and other influencers. But NOT a good idea to spend thousands on full page ads in fashion magazines right off the bat.

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