How to Sell Your Fashion Line – The Pros and Cons of Five Sales Channels

how to sell your fashion line pros and cons

Every business is unique and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how you’re going to sell your fashion line. The first step to deciding how you’ll sell your line is to start with your goals. I’m talking about your personal goals as well as the goals you have for your business.

Be sure to consider the following when thinking about your goals:

  • Your big vision for your business
  • Your target customer
  • Your financial goals
  • Your lifestyle and life-stage
  • Your product
  • What you’re good at
  • Who you like to work with

I’ll give you an example of why you should consider your personal situation as well as what you want out of your business. I was 25 years old when I launched my womenswear line and opened up my boutique in Chicago. My life-stage was such that the only person I had to worry about was me. No big obligations, no mortgage, no kids to support. If I wanted to work 15 hours a day – every day – I could do it. As long as I could come up with rent money, I was good to go.

Fast-forward to 2014 and my life-stage is totally different. I have 2 kids, a husband, and lots of other responsibilities. There are constraints to my time and my finances that I didn’t have when I was 25. If I opened a boutique and launched my line today, I would have to do it in a completely different way; a way that didn’t involve as much sweat and labor out of me but rather from other people, who I would have to be able to hire. Make sense?

Now that you know your goals, and say whether or not opening your own boutique as a sales channel is something you are interested in doing, you can decide which ways you’d like to sell you line.

How to sell your fashion line, the pros and cons of five different sales channels…

#1:  Sell to Boutiques (wholesale)

Pros:

  • Consistent buyer – usually the owner
  • Can create a relationship
  • Bigger orders than selling direct to consumer

Cons:

  • Collecting payment
  • Finding trustworthy stores
  • Cash flow issues – timeline

#2: Home parties

Pros

  • Retail pricing
  • Immediate customer feedback
  • Travel (can be a pro or a con depending on you)

Cons:

  • You have to be there and that’s good or bad (depending on you)
  • High touch, labor intensive
  • Schlepping factor

#3: Selling Online    

Pros

  • Retail pricing
  • Don’t have to leave your house or studio
  • Mostly email communication (good for shy people)

Cons:

  • MUST know marketing and do it consistently to succeed
  • Customer service and shipping are very time-consuming
  • Must carry inventory – risk and cash involved

#4: Retail (your own store or space in another store)

Pros:

  • You get paid by the customer on the spot
  • Quick test market, never boring
  • Events drive sales – need to enjoy planning events

Cons:

  • Must drive traffic – marketing skills
  • Requires cash and lots of hours
  • Must carry inventory
  • Employees – calling in sick, managing them, paying them!, etc.

#5: Art Shows and Craft Fairs

Pros:

  • You get paid right away
  • Retail pricing
  • Get to meet a lot of people and other vendors

Cons:

  • Hard to know which shows will be good for you and if your target customer will be there
  • Weather can be a factor
  • Must carry inventory

Now it’s your turn. What have you tried and which selling avenue do you like best? Let me know in the comments below.

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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”.

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