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4 Things Nobody Tells You About Starting Up A Fashion Business

The idea of starting up a fashion business can be a really heady one, filled with the promise of success and an insatiable burst of creativity. According to Mckinsey, India’s apparel market will be worth $59.3 billion by 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world, so it’s no surprise that everyone wants to be part of the industry. Also, the market for sustainable clothing is growing at the speed of light, and the idea that India is a fantastic place to build and sustain a clothing brand is dawning upon millennials. And niche labels are popping up like Bollywood singles. So, it is only natural that it may appear to be a very easy thing to do. However, like most businesses, fashion isn’t easy. There are things that go unsaid, and may very well be deal-breakers for you. So here are 4  things no one tells you about starting up a fashion business.  

1) You are EVERY Employee

There may be many reasons you want to start your fashion business, but most of the time it is to make use of one of your skills. Now that may be designing, merchandising, marketing, or simply your love for fashion. But a business is the amalgamation of a lot more than just a singular skill. A business is successful only when it has all its systems running seamlessly together. And when you startup, you probably won’t have the funds to hire a team for every different system. You will have to be very judicious about where your money goes. So, you will design, source, market, sell, manage accounts and everything in between! It’s a full-time job and then some!

2) No Salary

This one may be a bit of a shock, but when you start up, it’s very likely that you don’t end up paying yourself for a large majority of the beginning of your business. Depending on the investment with which you are starting up your fashion business, chances are your funds are all going towards growing your business. Also, you may not be making a profit for a while. It can take up to 3 years for a start-up to become profitable, so you won’t be off in a limo anytime soon.

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3) Keep Your Competitors Close!

You wouldn’t ever imagine Christian Louboutin strutting about in a pair of original Jimmy Choos’, but while focussing too much on your competition is not recommended, it is advisable to keep an eye out on what your competition is doing. Competitor analysis allows you to understand your businesses standing in the marketplace in relation to your competition. It is a strategy for gathering information and putting it to use. With a thorough competitive analysis as part of your initial business plan, you’ll be positioned to outshine your rivals and draw loyal customers. Apart from this, peer learning is important too. Meet up with other entrepreneurs in similar fields. This will help you gain insight from those who have been there and done that, as well as give you an idea of what you are up against.

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4) You May Fail

I’m sorry, but this is the hard truth. Your business may be your baby, but you have to be prepared to say goodbye. Even though 80% of businesses survive the first year, only half of the small businesses survive past the 5-year mark. So, the longer you survive, the lower your success rate is.  I know, it’s unjust and irritating. But even if you make it really big, you may have to shut down. This could be a result of an array of things or a very particular thing. It could be unforeseen or could have slowly and steadily crept up over time. The market is constantly evolving, investor priorities change, consumer behaviours shift. The very well-loved Forever 21, at their peak made $4.4 billion in revenue, grew quickly and cultivated a following by selling on-trend clothing at low prices. In 2019 they filed for bankruptcy and announced ceasing of operations in 40 countries. But they were lucky enough to be bought out of bankruptcy in 2020, everyone is not always that lucky. Take Manish Arora for instance, he has headlines like “Manish Arora: A Tale of Great Success and Greater Defeat”. Being prepared entails learning from failure.

 

 Starting up a fashion business will never be predictable, there is not a single article out there can prepare you perfectly for what you are about to embark on. Laying down a well researched and educated groundwork will work in your favour, guaranteed. However, these are just four things that seem often unsaid. Once you have set off on your own adventure, you will have your own set of obstacles and ups and downs. That is when you will come up with dozens that are unique to your own personal journey. 

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