Fashion business involves the designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of different kinds of apparel. It is one of the trending businesses in the world and a much-patronized business venture.
Fashion is beyond covering our body, it’s about making a statement. As a result, most people spend a fortune on dresses, skirts, shirts and other clothing just to look good.
The general taste for fashion has increased the number of fashion stores on every street both in Nigeria and everywhere in the world. It’s a business area that accommodates the youths, adults, men, and women as long as you can bring your creative imagination to life.
Fashion business revolves around creativity, efficiency, uniqueness and gives no room for complacency. More so, it’s a place where personal profits can be decided and horizon expanded within a little space of time.
This explains why this industry is a profitable business area to venture into. Therefore, in this article, I will provide you with a guide on everything you need to start a fashion business in Nigeria, Africa or anywhere in the world.
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The fashion business is an act of producing all kinds of clothing for human beautification; clothing such as skirts, dresses, trousers, pants, shirts, socks, suits, underwear, gloves, and other kinds of body covering.
It is a super competitive industry and a complex one. However, it is a place where you can thrive within a few months of establishment as long as you have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Also, fashion is a large industry that can be built on a wide range of business models. For instance, you can venture into fabric production, fashion designing, owning a clothing line, marketing or fashion retail, and even cloth modification. All of which requires you to have a skillset and be a forward thinker.
Although most fashion business owners are professional designers, it is not the only pre-requisite. As long as you have an understanding of the industry from a business point of view, you can also venture into the fashion business.
Types of Fashion Business
The fashion business is a broad industry that can be structured and built around different business models as we stated earlier. There are different areas of fashion business such as fashion design, fashion retail, fashion media, bespoke tailoring, cosmetics, footwear, e.t.c.
Let’s look at some of these business areas:
This is a popular area in the fashion business. It includes boutiques, department stores, online sales companies e.t.c. They act as an intermediary between the manufacturers and customers. i.e they buy clothes from the manufacturer and sell to customers.
Once the clothes have been designed and manufactured, the fashion retailer makes a purchase in bulk and then sells it in bits. Fashion retailers approach different manufacturing companies to get different designs of apparel and display them in showrooms to attract customers.
This is because most manufacturing companies do not sell their own products directly to end-users. Instead, they sell to distributors and fashion retailers, who then sell to the end-users.
Fashion Design Business
Fashion design is one of the most popular and most-patronized area of the fashion business. It is an art of applying design, aesthetics, and natural beauty to clothing. It involves a high level of creativity such that, customers’ imaginations are brought to life in various ways.
Fashion Design is cheaper to start and has the potential of generating profit within 2-3 months of establishment. It involves cutting, sewing, weaving, ironing, and turning fabrics into dress or attire. People who do this are called fashion designers. To be a fashion designer, you need hands-on training from training institutes or from other established brands.
Fashion Import/Export Business
This is the importation and exportation of fashion goods. Fashion importers and exporters do not sell directly to end-users, they sell instead in bulk to retailers.
They manufacture items and export to other countries, or import from other countries and sell in large quantities to local buyers. It’s a capital-intensive business area and mostly done by high net worth individuals who can afford to pump millions of naira into the business.
Other areas are;
Manufacturing: This involve the manufacturing of textiles, clothing, and other fashion accessories. It can also be done by fashion designers or fabric producers who then promote their clothes to distributors, fashion retailers, media, and other customers.
Cosmetics: This includes the production of makeup, perfume, spray, and other kinds of beauty products.
Fashion Media: This is the use of media such as blogs and magazines to promote fashionable items.
Bridal Wear: They produce all kinds of wedding dresses, bouquet, and flower dresses for brides and her maids.
Fashion Institute: This is a place where prospective fashion designers are taught and trained about the fashion industry. It’s always a combination of theoretical and practical training.
Those are the different areas of the fashion business. But for this piece, we will focus on fashion designing. You will learn everything you need to start a fashion designing business.
How To Start A Fashion Business
Identify A Need In The Market
The first step in starting a fashion business is to identify what the market needs. So, think about a niche you are passionate about that is not currently filled.
It can be making wedding dresses, shirts, trousers, uniforms, baby wears e.t.c. After identifying the niche, consider the audience you want to target. Do you want to focus on men, women, babies, ladies?
Choosing a niche will help you tailor your adverts and sell better to your audience. Also, it will help in the advancement of the business and in building a brand identity that is unique and different from other existing brands.
In a fashion design business, training is required if it’s not your forte. Getting training will provide you with adequate knowledge on how to turn fabrics into a fitted dress. If you are not trained, you can sign up with a fashion institute for 6 months to a year. It’s important for a business owner to understand the core of their business, that’s why training is important.
If you are planning on building a clothing line and scaling fast, you cannot make all the clothes yourself. So, you need to find a clothing manufacturer. This may mean you employing people who can help you make the clothes in your location or fully contracted out a manufacturer who will produce exactly according to your specification.
Write A Business Plan
Once you are done with your training and sourcing for manufacturers, the next thing is to draft your business plan. A business plan serves as a guide for every business journey.
To write a comprehensive business plan, you need to conduct a feasibility study, identify your target market and audience, know the competition and their activities and come up with a strategy to stand out and win.
Register Your Business
To run a structured business that can stand separate from you the owner, you need to register the business. You can register with the authorised Nigerian agency, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a sole proprietor, Limited Liability Company depending on the ownership structure.
Besides, you can contact ReDahlia, a brand preoccupied with offering business support and solutions to entrepreneurs to help you with your business registration. They make the process seamless and affordable for you.
The cost of setting up a standard fashion design business varies according to the scale you want to operate. if you just start from home, you don’t need to bother with the cost of location. You only focus on the equipment you need. But, if you need to set up a factory and work with others, you will need to spend money on the location, furniture, equipment, salaries, etc. Therefore, the cost of starting a fashion business can range from anything between a few thousand to millions of naira.
If you do not have the capital to start, there are different ways you can seek funding which we have covered here. Also, there are grant opportunities available to entrepreneurs. The option of crowdfunding where you get different people to invest in your business is also available.
The next thing is to look for a location suitable for the business. Just like in every business, location matters. It can have a positive or adverse effect in the turn out of the business. So, it is better to get a location that gives you access to customers with little or less competition since you are just starting out.
Depending on the standard you are creating, rent a 2-3 bedroom flat and furnish it to a modern taste. The open area can be for sewing machines where your employees and trainees can work from. The other room can be for fabric cutting where you have a center table big enough for cutting different fabrics at a time. Also, create another room for embroidery and industrial machine and perhaps set up a fitting room in a corner.
As mentioned above, you can start from your home with a machine, tape rule, scissors, and other basic equipment. Then, as time goes on, expand, and create your own fashion store outside your residential home.
Depending on the standard you are trying to create, you might want to employ capable hands like designers, cleaners, e.t.c.
Decide whether to start small with few hands or start big and employ more hands. Remember, it’s better to build up and scale up than to scale down.
Design And Sew
Now is your time to creatively shine. Bear in mind, it’s not about what you want but what your customers want. Make sure you are designing something that your customers want and something you will be happy to show the world.
Also, you have to be practical here. Your designs should be such that can be produced in a cost-effective way so you can make a profit. You really have to be business-minded and think practically.
You can sketch out the ideas on paper, then trim it out on paper, carry out the whole process on the paper to see if it works to avoid wasting fabric. Also, offer the best customer service and meet deadlines.
Starting a fashion design business requires the following equipment:
- Sewing Machine: For sewing cloth. it can be industrial or manual
- Embroidery Machine: To make design on clothes
- Weaving Machine: It is a finishing machine used to make the sewing work neater.
- Scissors: To cut fabrics after the sizes have been chalked out.
- Iron: For straightening of clothes in between sewing and at the end.
- Generator: To supply power in case of power failure.
- Measuring Tape: To get the accurate size of the body.
- Sewing Machine Needles: There are two kinds of needle, the hand sewing, and the machine needles. It is used to fasten thread into the fabrics.
- Threads: The color of the thread varies. It is mainly used with a needle to sew clothes, and the color depends on the colour of the fabric.
- Sketching Books: To sketch out designs
- Chair: To sit while operating the machine. It can be movable or otherwise.
- Pencils/ Chalk: for sketching on fabrics and books.
Creativity and time management is the selling point of every fashion business. You can’t afford to always disappoint customers especially when it comes to dressmaking, it will have an adverse effect on the business. The secret is to deliver what you promised and on time. The next thing is to invest in advertisement and marketing.
Marketing involves promotional activities such as print and electronic media advertising. It is aimed at building brand recognition and brand reputation for the business.
Create a fashion ovation where you feature customers wearing your design. Show up in magazines, TV shows, or perhaps operate a fashion blog where you talk about fashion and everything related to the fashion industry.
In addition, create a website, social media pages, and have a business card and brochure that you can distribute.
In conclusion, building a successful fashion business requires tenacity, creativity, and dedication. So much needs to be learnt to fully know how to operate and how to build a formidable brand.
Your business sustainability and profit will depend on the number of clothes you can make in a day and your ability to satisfy your customers.
There you go! Nothing should stop you now from starting your fashion business. If you are an aspiring fashion entrepreneur or a fashion entrepreneur, we will like to read your thoughts in the comment. Please share this content with your friends if you found it useful.
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