Starting a Fashion Business on a Shoestring Budget

Fashion Designer Shoestring BudgetCan you start and run a fashion business with no money? OK, very little money. Are you trying to start your fashion business on a shoestring budget?

How do I launch a line without a lot of startup cash?

Pick a product that is not apparel. That means designing accessories, jewelry, a gift product, something that doesn’t have a lot of fit issues. This could even mean T-shirts as long as you don’t go crazy on color and size options. It’s very important to pick your niche if you’re a startup with a lean budget.

Once you’ve picked a good category that’s relatively easy to manage, not sized, is a one-product kind of thing or one size fits all, you then want to begin selling it organically with your friends and family.

So if you have $3,000 to start a business or $2,000 or less, you can do it. It’s tough, but do-able. You want to build it slowly, selling a few pieces, take the money to finance production of the next few pieces, and so on.

Don’t even think about trying to sell to Barneys or a large store, because even if you did manage to get an order from them, how would you finance the production of that?

Keep your day job and just start selling to people around you. Get the feedback, find out if the market really wants what you have and is willing to pay for it.  This is a big deal.

Business are based on a set of assumptions.  The best way to enter into business is to constantly experiment to see if those assumptions are correct.  If they’re not, you need to be able to adjust your product or strategy accordingly.

What do think of this approach? Do you have the patience to start slowly when you you’re on a shoestring budget?

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. sheila odessey

    I have started an eco-friendly handbag business on a shoestring. It takes mega perserverence, patience and resourcefulness. My raw matrerials (plastic bags) are free and plentiful. The production is handwoven in my studio. I try to use fabric remnants from textile companies. I find decorative elements in the local flea market. Freinds have helped me learn how to photograph my product and use photoshop…not to mention their constant support. Jane Hamill’s webinars and advice have also been invaluable. I also found interns and pounded the pavement to find retailers to carry my line. Defintely hard but doable!

  2. naoko

    This is exactly what I have started doing -and StartUpFashion has been so valuable for me to learn about the business side of things. Thank you for all the articles. I was just successful for my first shop rendez-vous and the line sheet I prepared with your help was appreciated. Cheers, Naoko

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