Starting a fashion business in Nigeria is not the easiest thing to do but with guidance, the journey gets smoother. If you are a designer who wishes to go exclusively into the production of ready-to-wear outfits, there are certain questions to ask yourself before delving in.
In this video, Tomi Rotimi, who has over 16 years of experience in running a ready-to-wear fashion brand in Nigeria called Xclamations, shares 24 questions to ask before you start a ready-to-wear brand. We have compressed them into 6 questions.
6 Questions To Ask Before You Start A Ready-To-Wear Brand
First things first, before starting a ready-to-wear fashion label, you need to decide on what your proposed brand name will be. This is the fun part of starting a brand because most fashion designers have already decided on a name for their business.
After you have gotten the name, you should get it trademarked, so no one can steal it, and then you get a logo to go with it. Since having a website for your fashion brand is something every fashion designer must do, you need to pay for a domain name to use as you go along the way.
Remember, however, that whatever name you pick should be something your ideal customer can relate with.
Now that your brand name is sorted out and you have secured a domain name for your brand, it is time to answer some questions.
1. Where do you Intend to Source your Fabrics from and How do you Intend to Produce your Designs?
This question is one every ready-to-wear designer must answer. Do you plan to source your fabrics locally, do you intend to import them, or would you rather go for a mix of both? Based on what you are aiming for, the answer to this can be very diverse.
Now, how do you plan to produce your designs? You can either decide to have an in-house factory or to outsource production. If you then decide to outsource production, do you intend to outsource to a local or an international factory or do you intend to do a bit of both?
For whichever production option you choose to go by, you have to decide what quantity of outfits you want to produce per design. Do you want 10 pieces per design or 100 pieces per design? Do you have distribution channels for your pieces? These are crucial things you need to know before going ahead with starting the brand.
2. How do you Intend to Finance your Dream and Hire Staff?
Finance in any business is very important because it is the backbone on which a business is established. No one can successfully launch a fashion business without some kind of fund.
Here, you have to decide on how to get the finance to fund your startup. Do you intend to fund it yourself or do you want to get a bank loan or raise money through family and friends? For whatever plan you settle on, always remember that there are consequences.
Now, you need to take an inventory of all your passions, skills, and talents to see what skills or gifts you are bringing to the table so you know how to hire. Do you have the skills to handle your social media pages or will it be better to hire someone to do that? You must answer this truthfully because social media plays a huge role in growing businesses.
Also, you need to decide on your immediate staffing needs. Do you need an accountant, pattern makers, cutters, and so on? Write whatever staffing needs you discover down.
Another part of this is finding out what other sources of income you can make through your brand. This could be directly or indirectly. In this age we live in, having multiple sources of income is non-negotiable and It just might surprise you that your brand can deliver on this.
3. Who is your Ideal Customer and What Story is Your Brand Telling?
This is one thing you have to think about. You need to personify your ideal customer and find out what his/her shopping pattern, disposable income, and social life is like. Write everything you can think of about this person.
Based on your ideal customer, you have to decide on what your price point category is. You need to know how you want your brand to be perceived by customers, are you a premium, a high street, or a mass-market brand? You have to define who you are.
Then, what is the story your brand is telling that connects with your target market? Is it a story of personal fulfillment or a DIY story? You decide. But your brand has to be saying something apart from “buy me”.
With your ideal customer and brand story in mind, what is your signature style? Do you want to be known for Afrocentric styling? Do you want to be known as a wedding guest designer, a nice church wear designer, or a high streetwear designer? You need to decide on these things.
Since you are new to the ready-to-wear scene, it will be great to pick out a brand you admire, not so you can copy designs or style, but so you can make the designer a mentor. You can follow their story, follow their page, and their brand direction.
In line with how you want customers to perceive your brand, you should look out for brands to collaborate with, either in other industries or other categories in the fashion industry. Do you want to collaborate with a jewellery brand or a cosmetic brand? Do you want to collaborate with someone in the entertainment industry or someone who just has a very strong style? You decide this.
4. What is your Proposed Route to Marketing and What is your Launch Strategy?
Your proposed route to marketing is how you intend to sell your products. Do you want to sell them through a physical store, through your website, through social media, or a concession store? Deciding on how you intend to sell your products is very key in the entire process.
The marketing strategies you intend to apply in letting your prospective clients know about your brand is also very important. Are you going to market it through paid ads, social media, or celebrity endorsements? Are you pushing your brand through brand association or a high selling location?
Now that you have devised a way to reach your target market, you need to decide on what your product launch strategy is like and on how often you want to launch designs and collections. Do you want to launch new collections quarterly or do you want to drop single styles now and then? Do you want to launch designs every weekend, monthly, quarterly, or just during special seasons?
5. How do you Want to Manage Unsold Designs and the Replenishment of Bestsellers?
Having unsold designs is one thing that is bound to happen to every ready-to-wear designer. The question now is how do you intend to manage it when it does happen? Do you want to reserve them till the next season or are you going to give them away to charity? Do you want to introduce them to new markets or sell them through promotions? You need to decide on how you are going to manage unsold inventory.
Another thing every ready-to-wear designer will also face is fast sales of bestseller pieces. As you sell your bestseller, how do you intend to replenish them? Do you want to stock them in anticipation of sales? Do you want to restock them in sizes as you sell? Do you want to sell out and wait for the next season? You decide what works best for you.
6. What kind of Revenue do you Project to Make and How do you Measure Success and Failure?
Here, you need to think about what your current needs are and what your expenses are. Then, you have to consider the opportunity cost of doing your business. If you have or had a 9-5 or if you transitioned from being a bespoke brand, what were your earning at that time?
When you have gotten all these figures down, you need to ask yourself what will make sense for you to earn now. You also have to set a target as to what your projected income should be and the kind of income and sales you want to make.
Defining what success and failure mean to you is also crucial. Is success for you an increase in sales, an increase in stores, international sales, or an increase in brand awareness? You have to have a way to measure success.
As you develop a way to measure success, you also have to develop a way to measure failure. When do you know when to pack up and move on to something else? This is a deep one but it is something you must have in mind.
Starting a ready-to-wear brand is not the easiest thing in the world to do but asking yourself these questions will better prepare you for it.