Growing a fashion business can prove to be a very challenging and daunting task. Starting a fashion brand is not for the faint hearted but for those that are ready to keep learning.
Even though many designers have gone ahead, those coming behind still tend to make the same mistakes their predecessors made resulting in a vicious cycle of repeated mistakes.
This week we spoke with Ileyemi Oyinkansola of Ninolastyles
and Teninlanimi Wilson of Zerah.
Ileyemi Oyinkansola has over 10 years experience in the fashion industry and is the creative director at Ninolastyles. Ninolastyles is a bespoke tailoring company that was birthed out of a passion to make “wearable art”. The company works with female millennial of marriagable age who want to meet up with societal standards of fashion.
Teninlanimi Wilson has been in the fashion industry for 3 years and is the creative director at Zerah, a fashion brand focused on the 21st century working class woman. Fashion was a dream Teninlanimi had as a child, and her inability to get a job immediately after the university together with her desire to build a lasting legacy, financial independence and job security spurred the the birth of Zerah.
They both shared with us some mistakes they made that upcoming designers can avoid.
1. Not identifying your path on time: The thrill of venturing into entrepreneurship and being financially independent sometimes makes creatives delve into business without properly identifying what they want to sell. The importance of finding your niche as a fashion designer cannot be over emphasized.
2. Not knowing who your target market is: Do you want to sell to the old or young? Upper, Middle or Lower class? Male or Female population? You need to know who your target market is to make headway in the industry. It’s about learning the fashion that’s particular to your target market and giving them pieces they will actually buy.
3. Failing to balance profit and passion: Passion is good because it drives you and gives you a reason to keep going. Profit is also good because it helps keep your business running. Passion without profit or profit without passion ultimately leads to frustration. It’s important that designers learn to balance both so both the business and the designer can thrive.
4. Bad Pricing: Underpricing your fashion items can really affect your business negatively as a startup. There’s nothing like putting a lot into a fashion piece only to be paid less than the amount you spent in making that piece. No matter what your relationship is with your customer, every material used in putting the piece together must be well calculated, together with labour fee before cost is stated.
5. Making assumptions for customers: This here is one mistake that can really get a designer into trouble. Making assumptions about things like choice of design to make, choice of fabric to use, who is bearing delivery cost etc can really put a designer at a disadvantage. You and your customer have to clearly decide on these things to avoid unnecessary problems.
6. Picking staff based on sentiment: Having the right staff to work with can really ease the burden that comes with running a fashion business. Making a choice on who to hire to build your fashion brand is a task that should be taken seriously and done without sentiments. Many new designers fall into the trap of hiring staff based on sentiments instead of based on qualification but this is a huge no no.